Growing A Dental Practice & Employee Retention, A Perfect Pair

hiring Aug 18, 2020

Dental Practice profitability is a top priority. Without it, you can not keep your doors open, you can not treat your patients, and you can not live the life you envisioned.

I am willing to bet that you have analyzed, and then over analyzed your website and marketing budget. You’ve invested yearly in continuing education and consistently look at adding the newest equipment and the latest technology to the practice in hopes of increasing efficiency and profitability. 

You have focused on ROI when it comes to marketing budgets and big-ticket technology items, analyzing the cost per patient gained, and the cost and time difference for the crown milled chairside.

All of this effort, with the hopes of retaining patients, growing the practice, and increasing profitability.

Let me now ask a question. How much time have you spent thinking about staff retention in terms of ROI and practice growth? If the answer is none or not much, you are missing out on a tremendous opportunity.

What should I do about staff retention, and why should I even care?

Employee retention is perhaps the most overlooked item that will give dental practices a competitive advantage, and thus a more productive and profitable business.  If you want to grow your practice, keep your employees engaged and onboard. 

But why?

It’s quite simple. When our patients get to know, like, and trust us, we create opportunities to engage them in the co-diagnostic process, and we open the door to increased treatment acceptance.  We grow the practice and increase profitability.

If you have a revolving door when it comes to team members, you will constantly be restarting this trust-building process. 

A lost employee also means lost knowledge. If the policies and systems in your practice have not been thoroughly documented, when someone leaves, they take their knowledge of the operation right out the door with them. And this is not just knowledge about the systems and software, or how you prefer your instruments be passed to you and at what moment in the procedure; they take their knowledge of the patients, they take their relationships. The rebound from turnover can be tremendously difficult - and costly

If you want to grow and sustain your business, you need to have employee retention strategies in place. Below are 4 simple ideas, and the why behind them that will show you how to retain your good employees and grow your practice.

Employee Retention Strategies

1: Hire The Right Person For The Job, And Set Them Up For Success.
The employee retention process begins with having well-established job descriptions, and a comprehensive hiring and onboarding process. Hiring hastily, without a solid plan for training, and with no clear roles and expectations established, is a recipe for disaster. As individuals, we all crave clarity; we want to know what is expected of us. When this clarity is missing, we feel lost and frustrated. As a leader, it is your responsibility to deliver this clarity. Make sure your team knows exactly what their roles and responsibilities are, so they can consistently execute them. Having these roles, responsibilities and expectations communicated both verbally and in writing will provide even more clarity here.

2: Increase Employees Engagement With The Why
Employee engagement and retention go hand in hand.  A recent Gallup study found that in June of 2020, the percentage of engaged workers, that is “those who are highly involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace” was 38%, while 14% are actively disengaged, meaning they “have miserable work experiences and spread their unhappiness to their colleagues”.  This leaves nearly half of our team members just coasting by. How efficient can you truly be, with less than half of your team actually caring about the work they do? I’ll let you think about that for a minute.

Now, take a few minutes and think about the team members in your office. Where do they fall on this spectrum? Identify the Individuals that are floating by, not passionate about their work; you need to grab them and bring them up, or those negative team members will bring them down, and eventually out. A great way to start this process is by knowing, and sharing, your vision and your core values. When a team can rally around a shared vision, values, and goals, and can focus together on important priorities to help achieve these goals, they are inspired and engaged. 

3: Hold Meetings Regularly
The average day in a dental office is busy. During our average days, our focus, as it should be, is on the patient. If we don’t intentionally take time to sit down and talk, to focus on the team, and on the business, small problems become big problems, priorities fall to the wayside, teams become disenfranchised, and team members begin looking for other jobs. 

Establishing a consistent meeting cadence for both all team meetings and for individual check-ins is an essential component of the high achieving practice. At ACT Dental, we recommend weekly team meetings. This time can be spent keeping the team focused on common priorities and goals. This is the place where clarity is communicated, and engagement is built and maintained.

4: Say Thank You
Sometimes we overthink things. We analyze and overanalyze. We make lists of pros and cons through our research. As a dentist and a scientist, I’m sure you’ve never done this...right??

Sometimes the easiest thing is overlooked. Sometimes we forget the power of simply saying “Thank you, I appreciate you.” When praising team members for a job well done, confidence is built. A confident and appreciated employee will remain on the team, along with all of their knowledge of the practice workings, and the patients’ lives.

It will also serve you to remember that there is more than one way to show your appreciation, and there is more than one preference for how it is received. Take the time to actually get to know your team, and you will begin to understand what is important to them. A simple thank you is always appreciated, but tailoring your appreciation to the actual person is incredibly effective. It will breed engagement and loyalty.

Profitability matters. Predictability matters. People matter. You can not have the first two without the right people solidly in place. You’ve worked hard to get here. Surround yourself with a team that supports you, and that supports one another. Keep them engaged, talk to them, and say thank you to create a better practice, and ultimately, a better life.

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